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CFVH nurses honored for National Nurses Week

by Tonya Revier Clark Fork Valley Hospital
| May 24, 2023 12:00 AM

When a patient faces a difficult health scare or situation, it is often the small things that can bring the most comfort.

Amanda Hout, RN, and Clark Fork Valley Hospital’s Nurse of the Year explained it well when she shared her favorite part about being a nurse.

“I’m stepping into a person’s life during a very challenging time, maybe even the worst day of their life. As nurses, we have the opportunity to meet people in times of fear, pain and uncertainty and shine light into this darkness.”

She added, “We are a source of solidity for patients and their families when it feels like everything else around them is falling apart.”

Hout, who works on the Med/Surg Unit, in the Emergency Department, and in Labor and Delivery as needs arise, has been fulfilling her passion as a nurse at CFVH since she graduated from nursing school in 2020.

“My first experience at CFVH was during clinical rotations in nursing school,” shared Hout, who previously worked as a CNA for over twelve years in skilled nursing facilities.

“Two things that stood out to me about CFVH were the team cohesiveness and level of patient care.”

Hout was presented with the Nurse of the Year Award during National Nurses Week on May 10. The recognition ceremony was held at CFVH and attended by a number of co-workers and other award nominees.

Lisa Eberhardt, RN, BSN, Chief Nursing Officer, proudly presented the award after reading multiple nominations that highlighted Hout’s exceptional bedside demeanor, dedication to teamwork and positive attitude. She has showed support for her peers, leadership in trying situations and most notably chooses to commute from Charlo for work regardless of other career opportunities because she loves the team and community so much. Patients have continuously praised Hout for being so kind and thoughtful as well as quick to respond to their questions and needs.

Tears flowed down Hout’s face when she realized the nominations were for her.

“I was blown away,” she explained. “All of the nurses at CFVH are exceptional and I feel like everyone is so worthy of praise and recognition, not just me. I jumped out of nursing school and straight into working alongside a group of compassionate, courageous, professional nurses who are still mentoring me to this day.”

Similar sentiments about the worthiness of her co-workers were described by Dulce Melendez-Reyes, CNA who was also recognized at the ceremony as the CNA of the Year. Also quite emotional when receiving her award, she thought Eberhardt was talking about someone else because all of her fellow nurses are so deserving.

Reyes has worked with residents in CFVH’s Long Term Care (LTC) for the last ten years. She credits her friend and neighbor, Tim Johnston, CRNA who suggested she enroll in a CNA training course at the hospital when she was seeking more purpose in her life.

Like Hout, Reyes had several nominations honing in on her unwavering compassion and the pride she takes in her work. Her willingness to help wherever needed was stressed as well as her ability to bring residents pure joy. Her devotion to caring for LTC residents and bringing happiness to others is evident in all that she does.

“I wouldn’t know what else I would do,” she explained when talking about her career. “I feel so blessed to live in this town and do what I do.

Reyes, who grew up in Saltillo, Mexico moved to the U.S. when she was 28. When she first moved to Plains she sold Mexican food and cleaned houses. Her now grown son, Esvin, was born at CFVH.

“Everyone treated me like a queen and were so comforting as they helped me navigate my pregnancy,” she touted.

When asked about her favorite part about being a CNA, Reyes joyfully explained it was all about the residents.

“I’m not here for the paycheck. I often don’t even look at the clock when I’m at work. The residents have my heart. I put my heart first and everything else falls into place.”

Reyes touched on how difficult it was when Covid hit and comforting patients became even more important because they couldn’t see their families.

“We had to focus on the positive. It broke my heart that families couldn’t visit, especially when we would see them come to the window just so they could see their loved ones.”

She went on to add that the entire team made it work. They all tried to help each other and pitched in where necessary.

When asked about the mentors in Reyes’ career, the list went on and on. Becky Nichter, Arlene Lindsay, Carla Miller, Nikki Stevens, April Sanders, Cheryl Kegel and Stacy Torgerson were all mentioned as people who helped her become a better caregiver. They all supported her at different times and made her feel part of a family here at work. Many of these individuals made themselves available when she needed support and demonstrated new techniques that helped her better care for the residents that she so deeply adores.

“There is nothing like the heart of a nurse,” Eberhardt concluded the ceremony with as she thanked all of the nurses in attendance for what they do day in and day out for the organization and the patients who trust us with their care.

This is the first year both of these awards have been awarded at CFVH. “All of our staff felt the stresses of the pandemic and our leadership team is focusing more on recognition and celebration in their departments and hospital wide,” explained Tonya Revier, CFVH Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator. “Small wins, kudos and thanks, and recognition for demonstrating our mission, vision and values are all things we hope to highlight so our employees know how valued they are.”

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Dulce Melendez-Reyes, a CNA at Clark Fork Valley Hospital, visits with long-term care resident Joanne Freed on her day off. (Photo provided)